Jessica Shawley

4 Things to Consider When Looking For Grant Funding

Jessica Shawley

About The Author: Jessica Shawley

  • Shape America National Teacher of the Year
  • National Board Certified (NBCT) Physical Education Teacher
  • Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Idaho
  • Nationally recognized educational speaker and professional development trainer (currently serving on the Shape America Physical Education Council)
  • Check out Jessica’s full conversation about grant funding on Chalk Talk 

4 Things to Consider When Looking For Grant Funding

Finding grant funding can be a crucial component to supporting a quality program, and the best news is you do not have to be a professional grant writer to find and secure these funds. With the right plan, a supportive team, a bit of organization, and lots of perseverance, many can be successful in grant writing. Though some may be turned off by the word grant writing as it can take some extra time and effort, I have found the payoff is well worth it. The more I search for and apply for funds, the more I can dial-in a process that works for me, making it easier each time I apply for a grant. Having written several physical education grants over the last 15 years, bringing in over $1 million in funding to support K-12 programming, here are four things to consider when looking for grant funding: 

1. Know what you want:

First off, what do you want? Be specific. How does it all align with and support your program’s overall mission and goals? Knowing this helps set the course for your search. Having a clear purpose in mind for funding allows you to be more efficient in finding and applying for funds. I recommend developing a comprehensive list of what you want, what is costs, and the cost of upkeep, also known as a sustainability plan. All of this helps you decide what size of grant to apply for, whether or not you need to apply for multiple smaller grants to achieve the larger outcome, or if you need to apply for different types of grants to help bring it all together. For example, you may want to find a technology grant, a curriculum-based grant, a professional development grant, and an equipment grant to fund all aspects of your wish list fully. You don’t have to settle for just one type of funding source.

2. Get Support:

Two key things come to mind here. First, does your administrator and curriculum director both know and understand your program vision and purpose? When is the last time you met with them to share the good news about what is happening in your classroom and how it supports the district’s mission? These are key players on your team that can keep an eye out for opportunities and help support you.

I also recommend seeking out those in your school who have been successful in grant writing previously and asking for support. Many colleagues are willing to help proof-read applications if you ask, which is especially helpful when you first start grant writing. Secondly, do you know your district’s grant writing approval process? Is there a required application that must be approved first before you submit your grant? How will this requirement impact your timeline? Typically, a district will want to know your grant writing plan, especially if it will be funding something that will require financial support long term. Keeping everyone in the loop will help you better develop a plan of action, including a sustainability plan once funding is exhausted, which only helps strengthen any application. 

Thinking about incorporating new technology into your classroom? Check Out PLT4M! 

3. Look Everywhere:

When looking for grant funding, I look everywhere. I leave no stone unturned. I am always on the lookout for different opportunities, and it doesn’t have to be a physical education only style of grant. My very first successful grant was a technology grant from my state’s department of education partnership with a technology company. They had never funded a P.E. program before. Why couldn’t I be the first? I had a well-developed program vision, a specific need, and a detailed plan for incorporating heart rate technology into my program. It all aligned with the grant’s purpose, so I went for it and found success. 

4. Find the right fit:

Typically, you are either looking for a more significant, all-encompassing grant or looking into several smaller awards to piece your vision altogether. Some of the different types to look for include curriculum, professional development, technology, equipment, school wellness, and nutrition. Find funding sources through professional associations, local businesses, hospital or insurance foundations, and state or federal level department of education grants. It is important to note that larger grants may have more requirements to fulfill yet are quite feasible with a plan and support team in place.

The key is finding the right fit. Knowing what you want, your district’s funding requirements, having a sustainability plan, and knowing your timeline will help you determine whether or not you are the right candidate for the funding opportunity or if the funding opportunity is the right fit for you. It goes both ways. You have to ask yourself: Do I qualify? How does my vision, and what I am seeking, align with the grant’s vision? Can I meet the reporting requirements? Are there other special requirements I must be able to fulfill?

I highly recommend grant writing as a way to support your program. Develop a list of ‘go-to’ funding sources to apply for and what the timelines are, even setting reminders on the calendar to check back in so that if you don’t receive it the first time, you can re-apply the following year. There are many opportunities available for the physical education profession at the state and national level through SHAPE America. It is essential to participate in our profession through association memberships, attending conferences when possible, and reading journals and newsletters to stay up to date on available grant opportunities. You can also utilize the many social media platforms to stay up to date and connect with others, asking them how they fund their programs. Connect with someone today and continue the conversation. Try these hashtags to start your search: #physed #funding #grantfunding #grants #SHAPEAmerica

Good luck with your grant writing journey! Check out the links below to get you started.

    • Fuel Up To Play 60 Grants (FUTP60) – A school wellness program that helps inspire student leadership and support physical activity, physical education and nutrition initiatives in your school. I have been a part of FUTP60 for over seven years, bringing in $4,000 per year to my school for our wellness initiatives, which includes physical education. 
    • Check out your state department of education, local banks, hospital foundations and health insurance network grants (example: Regence BlueShield or Blue Cross).